Steve Hill’s Second Volume; Almost perfect …

Blues guitarist extraordinaire Steve Hill, finally finished his Solo Recordings Volume Two.

The disc took two years to make. It was worth the wait!

Please listen below as Steve talks about the new album, the old (er) album and the state of the Blues in Quebec. Steve is currently on tour with Matt Anderson and Kim Churchill. Check out Steve’s site for all the info.

Steve?

Visit Steve Here!

 

 

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Jordan Officer; Free For a While …

Jordan Officer has got the blues.That’s a good thing!

Following a career that has seen him be the producer, arranger and guitar player within the Suzie Arioli Band – Jordan has returned to his first love; The Blues …

Off he went to New York City where – in two days, he recorded what may be the best Blues album to come from a Montrealer in quite some time.

Here’s Jordan to explain …

Please find out all the tour dates and information pertaining to Jordan right here!

Joe Louis Walker; Hornet’s Nest – A ‘Feel Good’ Record

Blues guitarist Joe Louis Walker has been around more than most.

Rooming with legend Mike Bloomfield or hanging around with Jimi Hendrix and Ron Wood, let us say; Joe knows the Blues.

Hornet’s Nest is his latest labor of love and it will be released on the 25th of February. A fun-filled addition to his vast catalog. A blend of Blues, Gospel and …?

Joe?

Visit Alligator Records Here!

BLUES FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES

2014 BLUES HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE; February 12, 2014. During the first 34 years of the Blues Hall of Fame balloting, only one saxophonist, Louis Jordan, was elected. The Year of the Saxophonist has come, however, in 2014, as three sax men–Big Jay McNeely, Eddie Shaw, and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson–blow their way into the Blues Hall. Two other performers–Mississippi hill country patriarch R.L. Burnside and the intense and inimitableRobert Pete Williams-will also be inducted in May.

Among the other individuals to be recognized by The Blues Foundation for their behind-the-scenes contributions: The Rosebud Agency’smanager and booking agent par excellenceMike Kappus, Houston music mogul and label owner Don Robey,and prolific Chicago record producer and writer Dick Shurman.

 

The book Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke by Peter Guralnick is the literature entry into the Blues Hall of Fame this year. This is Peter’s fourth book inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

These albums are being honored: Hawk Squat (Delmark, 1969) by J.B. Hutto andMoanin’ in the Moonlight (Chess, 1959) by Howlin’ Wolf.

The following singles will be inducted during the ceremony: “After Hours” by Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra (Bluebird, 1940); “Catfish Blues” by Robert Petway(Bluebird, 1941); “High Water Everywhere, Parts I & II” by Charley Patton (Paramount, 1930); “It’s Tight Like That” by Tampa Red & Georgia Tom (Vocalion, 1928); and “Milk Cow Blues” by Kokomo Arnold (Decca, 1934).

Inductees’ official biographies and descriptions are available, as well as all Hall of Fame inductees, at http://www.blues.org/halloffame/index.php.

The induction ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 7, at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before the 35th Blues Music Awards. With living musicians like B.B. King and Buddy Guy, and legends like Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor, the Blues Hall of Fame consists of blues music’s best and brightest stars.

The Blues Foundation is now in the final stages of raising the capital needed to showcase these legendary performers and their work with Blues Hall of Fame exhibits at its 421 S. Main headquarters in downtown Memphis. The Blues Hall of Fame will honor inductees year round, provide interactive and educational exhibits, and create a place for serious blues fans, casual visitors, and students to congregate, celebrate and learn more about the Blues. The Raise the Roof! campaign hopes to raise the remaining funds necessary to commence construction in June of this year.

On May 9, the night after the Blues Hall of Fame inductions, The Blues Foundation will present the Blues Music Awards for the 35th time. Performers, industry representatives and fans from around the world will celebrate the best in Blues recording, songwriting and performance from the previous year at the Memphis Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.

For tickets and more information, visit www.blues.org.

Major funding is provided by ArtsMemphis and the Tennessee Arts Commission. The 35th Blues Music Awards and Blues Hall of Fame events are also sponsored by BMI, Catfood Records, Eagle Rock Entertainment, First Tennessee Foundation, Jontaar Creative Studios, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Sony/Legacy Records.

The Blues Foundation is Memphis-based, but world-renown as THE organization dedicated to preserving our blues music history, celebrating recording and performance excellence, supporting blues education and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, The Blues Foundation has 4000 individual members and 200 affiliated local blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world. Its signature honors and events–the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame, International Blues Challenge and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards–make it the international center of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance while its Sound Healthcare program offers musicians health insurance access. Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues scholarships expose new generations to blues music. Throughout the year, the Foundation staff serves the worldwide Blues community with answers, contact information and news.

2014 Blues Hall of Fame Inductees

Performers

R.L. Burnside was a champion of Mississippi hill country blues who was able to energize rock audiences just as he did local juke joint revelers. He achieved crossover success by attracting a cult following among young college-age crowds with his infectious rhythms and good humor, and by agreeing with his producers at Fat Possum Records to collaborate with indie rock musicians and to submit his blues to sampling, scratching and digital programming. Although his 1990s studio product caused some reviewers and listeners to define his sound as progressive blues, Burnside himself was a traditional bluesman who never changed the way he played, and entertained live audiences as he always had.

Burnside was born in the Harmantown community near Oxford, Mississippi — where he would later become an Ole Miss favorite and Fat Possum artist — on November 23, 1926. He sometimes said his initials stood for Robert Lee, but he was also called “Rule,” and Social Security records cite his name as Rural or Rural L. Burnside. His musical inspiration came from his neighbor, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Ranie Burnette, and he entertained at house parties, juke joints and local gatherings in the Holly Springs area while working in the cotton fields and catching and selling fish. Burnside also lived for a few years in Chicago where he grew close to another influence, Muddy Waters. His first recordings, made in 1968 by folklorist George Mitchell, appeared on Arhoolie Records and, as his reputation grew, he made many more records and began traveling to appear at blues festivals and clubs, in the U.S. and overseas. He usually performed alone with his guitar but, as patriarch of a growing brood of musicians, he began playing with his sons and other family members, and the addition of hard-driving drumming to the rhythm of his guitar grooves gave his music an electric edge that bode well for expanding his audiences.

Six of Burnside’s later albums, some of them done with Jon Spencer or Tom Rothrock, made the Billboard blues charts. With this success, a spate of Burnside albums appeared on various labels, the result of tapes Burnside had happily agreed to make during earlier years for any fan who showed up with a tape machine. He died at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis on September 1, 2005. The family blues legacy has been carried on by sons Duwayne, Garry and Daniel, grandsons Cedric and Kent, and several other Burnsides.

Big Jay McNeely became the act no one wanted to follow during the “honkers and shouters” era of rhythm & blues that preceded rock ‘n’ roll, when the gunslingers of the trade wielded saxophones, not electric guitars. McNeely, “The Wild Man of the Saxophone,” launched sonic assaults while lying on his back, walking the bar or leading a procession out the door, driving his young audiences into a frenzy. While less acrobatic now that he’s in his eighties, McNeely has still maintained his instrumental prowess and his talent for exciting a crowd.

Born on April 29, 1927, in Watts, when the neighborhood had yet to be incorporated into the city of Los Angeles, Cecil James McNeely played jazz and classical music in high school. He graduated into the rocking world of R&B at the Barrelhouse, a club co-owned by Johnny Otis, who hired McNeely to play on a recording session in 1948. Savoy Records’ A&R man Ralph Bass signed McNeely to a contract and label owner Herman Lubinsky gave him the name “Big Jay.” His Savoy instrumental Deacon’s Hop hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s “race music” charts in 1949. McNeely continued to record for other labels, including Exclusive, Aladdin and Federal, but it was as a live act, both locally and on tour, that he had his greatest impact. The Los Angeles Sentinel reported in 1955 that the “inimitable brand of excitement imparted by his music was recently studied by a psychiatric board engaged in youth activities.” Varying and expanding his show, he added doo-wop groups to the revue and performed with glow-in-the-dark instruments and strobe lights. His over-the-top showmanship reportedly influenced a youngster who saw McNeely’s show in Seattle named James (later Jimi) Hendrix.

As musical trends changed, McNeely recruited a singer, Little Sonny Warner, for his band, and together they recorded his best-remembered song, the blues ballad There is Something on Your Mind, a 1959 hit which bore no trace of McNeely’s raucous honking. Within a few years, though, finding fewer outlets for his music, he took a job at the post office and continued the Jehovah’s Witness ministry he had adopted in his youth. In the 1980s a revival of interest in vintage R&B led to his return to the stage, as he excited a new generation of audiences around the world. McNeely was profiled in the 1995 Jim Dawson book Nervous Man Nervous: Big Jay McNeely & the Rise of the Honking Tenor Saxophone.

Eddie Shaw continues to build upon his unparalleled career as a Chicago blues saxophonist/bandleader in a city where guitar, harmonica and piano players have long ruled the roost. A multiple Blues Music Award winner and perpetual nominee in the Instrumentalist–Horn category, Shaw has blown his industrial-strength sax with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Magic Sam. And with his Wolf Gang he has racked up the most road mileage of all Chicago bands over the past four decades, crisscrossing the country from Maine, where his upbeat, high-energy blues is a particular favorite, to countless points south and west.

Shaw, born March 20, 1937, in Stringtown, Mississippi, learned saxophone at school in nearby Greenville, Mississippi, the hub of blues activity in the Delta. He continued at Mississippi Vocational College (now Mississippi Valley State University) in Itta Bena, meanwhile working or sitting in with Little Milton, Ike Turner, Charlie Booker, Elmore James and others, including Muddy Waters when he brought his band down from Chicago. Muddy was so impressed that he offered Shaw a spot in the band, and before long the sax phenom was a Windy City resident. His most significant work in establishing himself in Chicago, both in the clubs and in the studio, came with Magic Sam and Howlin’ Wolf. Shaw also ran a laundry business, an air conditioning service and blues clubs on the West Side. After Wolf died in 1976, Shaw took over the band, with Hubert Sumlin on guitar, and initiated a tireless touring itinerary. His son Eddie “Vaan” Shaw, Jr., soon assumed guitar duties and, along with bassist Shorty Gilbert, has now been with the Wolf Gang for more than 30 years. Shaw has recorded for Alligator, Rooster Blues, Delmark, Wolf, North Atlantic and other labels, and has found time in the studio to do sessions with Jimmy Dawkins, Willie Kent, Lonnie Shields, John Primer, Sunnyland Slim, George Thorogood, Big Head Todd and a growing list of others. His son Stan Shaw is a veteran Hollywood actor, and father Eddie made his own big screen debut in the 2007 film Honeydripper.

Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson was an acclaimed alto saxist who fit in comfortably in a variety of blues, jazz and R&B settings. A contemporary and admirer of Charlie Parker, he contributed to the first wave of bebop, but achieved his greatest popularity with his unique singing voice, which combined full-bodied blues shouting with a quirky, broken squeal. Vinson, born in Houston on December 18, 1917, played locally with the bands of Chester Boone and Milt Larkin before he was recruited to join trumpeter Cootie Williams’ orchestra in New York in 1942. Three of the records he made singing with Williams (Cherry Red BluesIs You Is Or Is You Ain’t and Somebody’s Got to Go) made the Top Ten ofBillboard magazine’s Harlem Hit Parade charts in 1944-45 and he won Esquire magazine’s jazz poll in the “New Stars” vocalist category. Leaving Williams to front his own band, Vinson scored more Billboard hits with the 1947 Mercury double-sider Old Maid Boogie/Kidney Stew Blues and his 1948 waxing of Somebody Done Stole My Cherry Redon King. Other favorites included his original version of the standard Person to Person, his cover of Big Bill Broonzy’s Just a Dream, and a number of tunes, such as Cleanhead Blues, touting his trademark baldness. (He shaved his head to maintain the look after first losing his hair to a lye-based hair straightener treatment gone awry.)

Vinson’s later recordings retained his characteristic warmth and humor and included albums with backing by Cannonball Adderley, Jay McShann, Mike Bloomfield and Roomful of Blues, collaborations with Count Basie, Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker and Oscar Peterson, and vocal and instrumental spots on sessions with Johnny Otis and others. He played alongside many other top names in blues and jazz at different points during his long career, from accompanying Big Bill and Lil Green to hiring a young John Coltrane as a sideman. Following his years in New York, Vinson returned to Houston and spent time in Detroit and Kansas City before settling in Los Angeles to enjoy a career revival during his last two decades, recording prolifically and making several European tours. “Mr. Cleanhead” died in Los Angeles on July 2, 1988.

Robert Pete Williams made his first recordings in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in 1959 while serving time for murder. Folklorist Dr. Harry Oster was in search of work songs but found instead one of the most original blues artists ever in Williams, who wailed and played guitar with ominous passion and intensity in a visceral style outside the bounds of traditional musical structure, rhyme and meter. Oster’s co-worker Richard Allen noted, “He did unorthodox things. He’d be in three modes at once.” Williams often made up lyrics and improvised accompaniments (picked rather than chorded) as he played, and his subject matter could be stark and disturbing. In one of his best known songs, Grown So Ugly, he looks in the mirror and moans, “I got so ugly I don’t even know myself.” The spontaneous nature of his music made it all but inimitable and it was fitting that one of the few musicians to cover Grown So Ugly was an equally unconventional rock icon, Captain Beefheart.

Robert Williams, who added the nickname Pete as a teenager, was born in Zachary, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge, on March 14, 1914. He played music at local gatherings but made his living by farming and working at a dairy, a lumber yard and other odd jobs until he shot a man, in self-defense, he claimed, in a barroom altercation. He entered Angola in 1956 and earned a work parole in 1959 with the support of Oster and others (in a scenario reminiscent of Lead Belly. After songs from his prison sessions appeared on the Louisiana Folklore Society label, the burgeoning folk-blues revival was ready to welcome Williams. His photo appeared in the national press along with news of an invitation to appear at the 1960 Newport Folk Festival. But the parole board refused him permission to travel, and he continued to work on a local farm until his time was served. His long-anticipated Newport debut in 1964 was recorded by Vanguard, and during the 1960s and ’70s he saw albums released on Folk Lyric, Arhoolie, Bluesville, Takoma and several European labels. He performed widely at folk and blues clubs and various festivals, endearing himself in the process to an international audience who found him anything but murderous. His music made him famous among a select segment of the blues world but not prosperous at home; his jobs during his years of freedom included collecting and selling scrap iron. Williams died on December 31, 1980, in Rosedale, Louisiana.

Individuals (Business, Academic, Media & Production)

Mike Kappus has been the kind of manager and booking agent any musician would want, and the blues world is filled with musicians who wish they could have been represented by his Rosebud Agency. The example he set guiding careers, booking jobs, finding record deals and championing artists’ rights with dedication and drive made him one of the most respected men in the business. To do his most effective work, however, Kappus kept his roster select and small, and in so doing, he was able to elevate the careers of John Lee Hooker, Robert Cray and others to new heights. Hooker, who served as best man at Kappus’ wedding, once said, “Mr. Kappus has done more for me than any agent I ever had . . . He is a very strong young man. He don’t back down.”

Kappus got his start booking bands in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he was born in May 24, 1950. He later worked for two Milwaukee agencies, TGC Productions, and Contemporary Talent, and brought a number of blues acts to town, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Freddie King, in addition to booking a blues stage at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. He relocated to San Francisco to join the Keystone Music Agency and in 1976 he founded Rosebud. Kappus’ personal management clients have included Hooker, Cray, John Hammond, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, J.J. Cale and Trombone Shorty. As a booking agency, Rosebud also represented Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, George Thorogood, Allen Toussaint, Albert Collins, Pops and Mavis Staples, Ben Harper, Ruthie Foster and others. At the end of 2013 Kappus, a recipient of multiple Keeping the Blues Alive awards, closed the booking business of Rosebud but he continues his management work, as well as his service to nonprofit groups. Kappus has aided environmental, educational, human rights and cross-cultural organizations with his volunteer work. He originated the idea for and initially funded The Blues Foundation’s HART Fund which since 2003 has paid medical and funeral expenses for blues musicians in need.

Don Robey built one of the most formidable entertainment empires in the independent music business with his Duke and Peacock labels, Buffalo Booking Agency, Lion Music publishing company, nightclubs, and other associated activities. His hardnosed business tactics made him a controversial figure, but many of his artists, including his first Peacock signee, Gatemouth Brown, and longtime Duke star Bobby Bland, who recorded for Duke for 20 years, spoke of him with admiration and respect.

Robey was born in Houston on November 1, 1903, to a white mother and black father, a professional chef. Robey, who lived with his mother on a cotton farm as a teenager, dropped out of high school to pursue a gambling career. He chauffeured and labored on the docks in Galveston before he worked at or owned a series of restaurants and nightclubs in Houston in the 1930s, including the Sweet Dreams Cafe, Lenox Club and Harlem Grill, a large dance hall where he and partner Morris Merritt brought in top-flight big band entertainment. Robey and Merritt were longtime associates in promotion and management and were later joined by Evelyn Johnson in the Buffalo Booking Agency. Robey learned more of the business during a stay in Los Angeles, and back in Houston he opened the upscale Bronze Peacock Dinner Club, another major performance venue. In 1949 Robey launched Peacock Records and later acquired Duke and added the Back Beat, Sure Shot and Song Bird labels. At one point his company was regarded as the most successful black-owned record business in America, with multiple hits by Big Mama Thornton, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Johnny Ace, O.V. Wright, and a sterling roster of gospel acts including the Dixie Hummingbirds, Five Blind Boys and Sensational Nightingales. The labels’ performers were signed to booking and management contracts as well, as was B.B. King. Under the pseudonym Deadric (his middle name) Malone (his wife’s maiden name), Robey published many songs he wrote or bought outright from songwriters. Robey’s operations at times also included a record store, pressing plant and print shop. Robey sold his firm to ABC in 1973 and stayed on as a consultant, but his new position did not last long. He died of heart failure at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston on June 16, 1975.

Dick Shurman is widely recognized in the blues community not only for the quality and care evident in his record productions and writings but also for his love for the music and the artists who sing and play it. His producing credits include albums by Albert Collins, Johnny Winter, Magic Slim, Charlie Musselwhite, Earl Hooker, Fenton Robinson, Roy Buchanan, Eddie C. Campbell and Lurrie Bell, and his bibliography includes articles for Blues Unlimited, Living Blues and Juke Blues, book chapters, and over 100 album liner notes. He has compiled numerous reissues and put in decades of service with the Chicago Blues Festival advisory committee. What makes his accomplishments even more remarkable is that he has compiled this Hall of Fame-quality blues resume while holding down non-music-related full-time jobs in a library system.

Shurman was born May 23, 1950, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and lived in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, before Boeing offered his father a job in Seattle. Inspired by blues he discovered on the radio, on records and with friends in Seattle, Shurman headed straight for blues mecca when he enrolled at the University of Chicago in 1968. He began befriending blues artists, submitting articles to Blues Unlimited, and making tapes in the clubs (including some by Earl Hooker that were released on LP), but found himself so drawn to the clubs that he decided it would interfere with his studies. He returned to Seattle to earn his degrees, including a master’s in library science from the University of Washington. With the degree he was able to return to the Chicago area and start work at a suburban library, enabling him to earn a living without depending on income from the blues.

A former contributing editor with Living Blues, Shurman interviewed a number of artists he would later produce in the studio, including Albert Collins, Otis Rush, Jody Williams, Johnny Heartsman, Andrew Brown and Lee Shot Williams. His rapport with the musicians extended beyond the studios and clubs as he developed lasting personal friendships, just as he did with a worldwide network of blues aficionados. He continues to produce and write with insight and to display his well-known talents as a punster and as a font of blues anecdotes, printable and otherwise.

Classic of Blues Literature

Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, by Peter Guralnick (Little, Brown and Company, 2005)

Dream Boogie is the fourth book by Peter Guralnick, America’s premier music biographer, to attain Blues Hall of Fame status. In this meticulously researched and detailed 750-page opus, Guralnick delves into the mind, music and soul of Sam Cooke and follows his trail, stop by stop, from his gospel days to his crossover to R&B and pop stardom to his tragic and controversial demise in a Los Angeles motel. Cooke’s talent extended to the blues and he especially admired Charles Brown, as Guralnick notes; Cooke even invited Brown to play piano on one of his sessions. The changing social landscape that soul, gospel and blues singers traversed in the 1960s is one of many fascinating themes in the book, along with the complex nature of Cooke’s personality. A champion of independence, freedom and equality, Cooke also had his demons, foibles, and a ruthless business side. Guralnick lays bare the details as no one has done before or since.

Classic of Blues Recording: Single or Album Track

After Hours – Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra (Bluebird, 1940)

As a counterpoint to the boogie woogie piano craze of the era, trumpeter-bandleader Erskine Hawkins turned pianist Avery Parrish loose to wax a slow, atmospheric instrumental blues on a June 10, 1940, session in New York. Hawkins and his horn men come in only at the end of the song, leaving it a showcase for Parrish’s moody pianistics. The lastingly popular (and often rereleased) After Hours (first issued as Bluebird B-10879) earned the unofficial title of the “Negro national anthem” and was a tune every club or lounge pianist needed to know, regardless of their race or preferred musical genre. It also served as a theme for several radio programs. The record brought national fame to Parrish, a member of Hawkins’ band dating back to its ‘Bama State Collegians origins in Birmingham, but in 1943 he was hit over the head with a bar stool and was never able to perform again.

Catfish Blues – Robert Petway (Bluebird, 1941)

Delta blues guitarist Robert Petway helped establish an enduring downhome blues theme with his March 28, 1941, recording of Catfish Blues in Chicago (Bluebird B8838). Many other bluesmen have since sung their own renditions of Petway’s line, “Well, if was a catfish, mama, I said swimmin’ deep down in deep blue sea, all these gals now, sweet mama, settin’ out hooks for me, settin’ out hooks for me . . .” Petway’s friend Tommy McClennan recorded a similar Deep Blue Sea Blues later in 1941, and Muddy Waters most famously reworked the catfish verse as the opening line of his smoldering classic Rollin’ Stone in 1950. Kokomo Arnold had earlier (1935) sung, “I’d rather be a catfish down in the Gulf of Mexico.” None of the other versions, however, were carried by such a propulsive rhythmic drive as Petway provided on this flailing guitar workout.

High Water Everywhere, Parts I & II – Charley Patton (Paramount, 1930)

Often regarded as Delta blues king Charley Patton’s masterpiece, the two-part High Water Everywhere is a dramatic account of the flooding that inundated parts of the Mississippi Delta and Arkansas in 1927 (and perhaps later). Patton sings of the devastation and death and works over his guitar with a force that builds as the song progresses, bringing an immediacy to an event that occurred some two and a half years before the session. Perhaps one reason, as Patton scholar Dr. David Evans has suggested, is that Part II, in which the scene shifts from Mississippi to Arkansas, may have been inspired by flood waters that threatened Arkansas again in January 1930. The date for this session is usually reported as circa October 1929 but Paramount discographers now believe it was early February 1930. The record was released as Paramount 12909 in April of 1930.

It’s Tight Like That – Tampa Red & Georgia Tom (Vocalion, 1928)

Guitarist Tampa Red and pianist Georgia Tom joined together in a playful vocal duet to rework of a hot street slang phrase of the 1920s into a genre-crossing national hit. It’s Tight Like That, a prime example of the good-time music known as hokum, was cut in Chicago on October 24, 1928 (Vocalion 1216), and was widely recorded by blues, jazz and country artists, including several sequels by Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) and Georgia Tom (Thomas A. Dorsey, who was later to be hailed as “the father of gospel music”).

Milk Cow Blues – Kokomo Arnold (Decca, 1934)

Milk Cow Blues (Decca 7026), a solo performance by slide guitarist James “Kokomo” Arnold, was one of the biggest blues hits to come out of Chicago in the 1930s. Decca kept it in print with a popular reissue in 1946 and in the meantime it was adapted not only by other bluesmen, but by Western swing bands, including Bob Wills & his Texas Playboys and Johnnie Lee Wills. Elvis Presley recorded a Wills-influenced version on Sun in 1954 and it has been covered many times since by artists ranging from Willie Nelson to Aerosmith. Arnold’s song, recorded on September 10, 1934, is not the same as earlier Milk Cow Bluesby Sleepy John Estes and Freddie Spruell, and is recognizable both for its “If you see my milk cow, please drive her home” lyrics and Arnold’s influential phrasing of “You gonna needmy help some day.” Robert Johnson answered it in 1937 with Milkcow Calf’s Blues, the last song he ever recorded.

Classic of Blues Recording: Album

Hawk Squat! – J.B. Hutto (Delmark, 1969)

In his liner notes to Hawk Squat! (Delmark DS-617), producer Bob Koester called J.B. Hutto and the Hawks “the most exciting, roughest blues band in Chicago,” and he set out to capture the Hutto sound he heard at Turner’s Blue Lounge in the South Side ghetto. The power of Hutto’s roared, sometimes almost unintelligible vocals, ripping slide guitar, and hard-hitting band work emphatically drove home the point on these sessions. Joining Frank Kirkland, Lee Jackson and other Hawks on the tracks were special guests Sunnyland Slim and, from Delmark’s modern jazz roster, Maurice McIntyre blowing his tenor sax in a blues mode. One track, Hutto’s popular Hip-Shakin’ — which is missing from some pressings of the original LP — was recorded at a club, Mother Blues, in 1966, and the rest came from two studio dates in 1968. Although often cited as a 1968 release, Blues Unlimited magazine reported a delayed release date of 1969.

Moanin’ in the Moonlight – Howlin’ Wolf (Chess, 1959)

Moanin’ in the Moonlight (Chess 1434) was the first compilation of Wolf’s work to be issued on LP, in 1959, and marks the fifth time the Blues Hall of Fame has inducted a Wolf album on Chess. As with most of his other Chess LPs, this was a collection of singles, here including four of the five tracks that hit the Billboard charts as 78s or 45s in the ’50s — the double-sided 1951 Memphis recording of Moanin’ at Midnight/How Many More Years, plus Smokestack Lightnin’ and I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline) from 1956 Chicago sessions. Other tracks are just as highly regarded as classics today, including Forty Four, No Place to Go and Evil. Adding to Wolf’s unmatched ferocity is a brilliant pack of sidemen, including guitarists Jody Williams, Hubert Sumlin, Willie Johnson and the unsung Lee Cooper. This music is all available today, of course, on multiple reissue sets, but for an introduction back in 1959, Chess could hardly have done better.

 

Texarillo; The Blues Come Full Circle

A funny thing happened on the way to success for Montreal born Dwane Rechil. He hit the blues … again!

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“It’s funny …” Says the forty – seven-year old singer, songwriter and guitar master. ” For years playing in my heavy rock band Top Johnny, I was always waiting for success to come. I was always on edge, never quite content with what I was doing. I thought I was having fun yet now that I am playing the Blues – I have never been more content in my life.”

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Rechil

Rechil is referring to his new band; Texarillo.

A band which has played together for a couple of years. A band which has just completed its first full album and is getting ready for the launch party on Feb. 7 at Calistoga Grill in Pte Claire.

A launch which will launch Rechil and his mates, Ricardo Bacardi ( Bass and vocals) and Ken Loudmann ( Drums and percussion) into the upper levels of  the Montreal Blues scene.

That’s the plan anyways …

“Right now, we are number ten on the Reverbnation Blues charts.” Says Rechil right before one of the band’s many gigs. ” The album has not been officially launched and it was only ready on the 18th of January. Not bad eh?”

Not bad at all for a trio which delivers high-octane Blues on any given night.

“I think what makes me and the band different from most Blues bands, is the fact that I come from a heavy metal band.” Says Rechil. “Blues was always my first love and now I have returned with an education in music. The songs on the album are an indication of my experience over the years.”

Drummer Loudmann is no slouch in the experience department either. Ken started playing drums when he was but three years old. An entire lifetime sits behind the ‘kit’ and provides an anchor for Rechil’ s songs and Bacardi’s profound bass playing.

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Ken Loudmann

” I was not influenced by any one drummer.” Explains Ken. ” Really – it is a mixture of many drummers and drumming styles. I grew up listening to Jazz, Country, Rock – you name it. I saw Buddy Rich play five times so obviously it paid off, yet he was not a principle influence. I knew that Rich was an exception. He was born into a Vaudeville family and started playing on stage when he was three years old.

C’ mon – he was in another world, one that was out of my reach so I never strove to be like him …!”

Bacardi’s bass playing, along with a  sense of humor that injects even more life into a stage show ripe with Rechil’s uncanny ability to connect with an audience –  anchored deeply in the 1980’s. An era which Bacardi pinpoints as the training ground for his guitar and eventual bass playing.

” I just missed the Kiss period ( referring to the band Kiss – not the affectionate lip posturing).” Explains Ricardo. ” So my influences were Van Halen, AC/ DC and even U2 … I enjoyed the overall sound. Obviously Eddy Van Halen is a great guitar player and so is The Edge. I was more influenced by the overall sound these guys put out …”

Playing guitar is also what Rechil loves doing. It is something he started learning at the age of twelve after his Dad bought him an acoustic guitar. By the tender age of  thirteen; Rechil was –  a two song virtuoso.

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Ricardo Bacardi

” I knew how to play ‘Wish You Were Here’  by Pink Floyd and ‘Stairway to Heaven‘ by Led Zeppelin.” States Rechil with a hint of pride.

” My favorite artist was Jimi Hendrix. To this day – when I listen to his songs. I still discover something new in them. I still cannot understand how someone could be that creative musically. Hendrix was not just a great guitar player, what made him stand out was his songwriting. He was a genius …”

Texarillo’s new album – ‘Black Satin Blues’, was a year in the making. All songs were composed by Rechil and he would create demos and play them to Ken and Ricardo. Three times a week, the trio would get together to  practice and record them. Unfortunately yet fortunately, gigs interrupted the process as the band did not want to play any new songs live. According to Rechil, there was no point having a CD launch if everyone has heard the new stuff.

Otherwise – everyone in the band would get the blues …

Which is exactly what  Rechil requires for happiness!

Texarillo Official Site

http://www.texarillo.com/index.html

Ben ‘Racine’ – Roots Music is ‘One of a Kind’

‘Modus Operandi’ …

The mission or a song? Both for The Ben Racine Band on their debut album; One of a Kind.

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‘Modus Operandi’ is the third track on an album which has just been released through Iguane Records in Montreal. As with every other track on the disc – the standout is Racine’s voice. Not seeing who you are listening to may come as a surprise if Racine arrives for dinner one day …

On disc, he is a man of African descent standing on stage at the Apollo theatre in the fifties. He is a forefather of the blues vocally. A cutting edge player along the lines of Dixon, Wolf and Waters. Racine delivers.

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In person, Racine is a young version of Sinatra in attire and has enough of a backbone to carry the history of the blues on his back.

The song ; ‘Walking the Dog’ – a tune covered and coveted by any individual or group wanting to be part of a blues festival – is done so well by Racine and his men; its a wonder the crossroads are not their home adresses.

The title track features the band backing up Racine’s vocals and guitar riffs with a more than operable slant towards the heyday of Motown. ‘One of a Kind’ is the name of the album and a good description of Racine and what he does.

‘Early Times’ is a sax vehicle, ‘Moose’ Mousseau and Little Frankie Thiffault trade reeds with the best of the best. The song is so feel good – a devasting crime against a family member, the only thing to get a listener down.

‘Shake a Hand’ and ‘Bad L’iL Lady’ are throwback ballads a la Colin James. Nicky Estor keeps time with a high hat and crisp snare as Racine delivers riffs and vocals with conviction. Nothing new on these songs in the annals of blues history yet worth the effort to take in the professionalism provided.

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The test of the disc is to be available to stand against the sounds of The Brian Setzer Orchestra or Colin James Big Band. In fact a combination of the Stray Cats and James is a great example of the sound Ben Racine portrays to the audience.

Mission accomplished for these students of the game especially on the tune ‘Hot Grease’. The best interchange of beats, momentum and Kevin Mark’s deeply embedded bass lines. The best of the artillery packed in this young band’s arsenal.

A concert with these guys is a concert filled with sore feet and sweaty heads.

Get your dancin’ shoes on …

Listen to Ben Racine HERE

Thrill Me Up; Dawn Tyler Watson and Paul Deslauriers both Nominated for A Maple Blues Award!

Last year, there was a duel at L’Astral Theater on Ste. Catherine St. East. A venue on the cusp of downtown Montreal.

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In the right corner, wearing a brown top and jeans – Dawn Tyler Watson. A woman who posesses the voice of an angel. Vocal chords blessed from deep within …

On the left, bearded and loaded with guitar fingers talented beyond comprehension – Paul Deslauriers. A man who should be writing the score for spaghetti westerns 2013.

The duo had just recently completed an album and they appeared on stage to promote it. ‘What a debut’ if the response of the audience that evening was any indication …

The show commenced with trepidation, musically and the amount of love being tossed around the L’Astral. Well – that did not last long.

‘Thrill Me Up’ broke the ice and the energy kept filling the glasses. The song is one of the new ones on the pair’s  album. A song which has caught on in the Ottawa region and has become a staple on the airwaves. An upbeat kind of song with Paul and Dawn’s voices matching intermittently. A tune which keeps great company by blues standards with a chorus to die for.

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The audience began to tune in and another new song; Small Ceremonies, was the backbreaker. A beautifully sung ballad. Watson’s inner child playing nonchalantly with Deslaurier’s tender riffs. A bedtime tale meant to be serenaded to a bride or groom to be…

Watson’s fiance was on hand back then among the patrons, amorous banter took center stage as ‘Miss’ Dawn urged the audience to appreciate the one special person in their lives. All the while –  while encouraging the single people to retain hope. A beautiful message from a beautiful songstress and person.

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The Beatles’ song ‘ Can’t buy Me Love‘ is on the new album and was just one of three eye – catching covers carried out by the duo. ‘The Rain Song‘ and ‘ Going to California‘, originally penned by Mssrs Page and Plant of Led Zeppelin fame, brought the house down. Renditions very worthy of calls from Zep themselves.

The jaw – dropping moment came halfway through the second set. Jacques Brel‘s song; ‘Ne me Quitte Pas‘, made famous by none other than Edith Piaf – may have brought tears to some people’s eyes. A fact which was pointed out by a standing ovation upon completion.

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Paul Deslauriers and Dawn Tyler Watson go together as two songbirds should. Deslauriers, along with Steve Hill – is the best guitarist in the province of Quebec and maybe in Canada. Watson has few equals in the voice department.

Sometimes duels are friendly …

Maple Blues Nominees – 2013

Tune into K103.7fm Friday at 5:15pm to hear me discuss the music scene in Montreal.

Some photos courtesy of Kid Mercury Entertainment.

Visit Dawn’s Site Here!

Visit Dawn and Paul’s Site Here!

May as well Visit Paul’s …lol